Abdominal Swelling: Causes, Symptoms And Treatments

Written by Stella Hart

Overviews On Abdominal Swelling

Abdominal swelling is the distention of the abdomen more than its normal size. Abdominal swelling is also named abdominal distention or distention of the belly. Many diseases can cause abdominal swelling; some of them are benign while the others may be malignant.

What Are The Types Of Abdominal Swelling?

Abdominal swelling can be all over the belly and it can be localized to certain parts of it. When abdominal swelling is localized to a small area, it is named abdominal mass.

According to the underlying etiology, abdominal swelling can last for months or disappears after a short period of time. Add to that, abdominal swelling can develop slowly with time, which is more likely to be malignant, or it can occur suddenly.

The severity of abdominal swelling is directly related to the underlying disorder and to the duration of it. It can be mild that is hardly noticed and it can be severe enough that interrupt the breathing of the patient.

Causes Of Abdominal Swelling

A wide range of causes can lead to abdominal swelling; these can range from benign causes, such as pregnancy, to much more serious causes, such as malignancy. It is very important for the doctor to determine the underlying cause of the abdominal swelling. Following are the most common etiologies of abdominal swelling:

  • The most common cause of short period abdominal swelling is overheating; eating too much will result in swollen abdomen
  • The second most common cause of abdominal swelling is gases or bloating: if you have too much gas in your digestive tract, you will have mild abdominal swelling
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Irritable bowel syndrome is one of the most common syndromes nowadays thus it is a major cause of abdominal swelling in addition to pain and cramping in the belly
  • Lactose Intolerance: This condition occurs when the body cannot digest lactose which is a type of sugar present in dairy products in high concentration. In addition to abdominal swelling, Lactose intolerance causes diarrhea, especially after eating or drinking any dairy product
  • Accumulation of fluids in the abdomen which is known medically as Ascites; many causes may lead to ascites, ranging from benign conditions, such as liver cirrhosis, reaching to more malignant causes, such as ovarian cancer

Much more causes may lead to abdominal swelling; following are some of those less common causes:

  • Pancreatitis
  • Gallstones
  • Ovarian cyst
  • Blockage in the intestine
  • Weight gain or obesity

Signs And Symptoms Of Abdominal Swelling

Abdominal

Many symptoms can be used to describe abdominal swelling; following are some of them:

  • Sensation of abdominal bloating
  • Sensation of a pressure in the abdomen
  • Sensation of abdominal distention

Abdominal swelling can lead to a wide range of other symptoms as a complication of it; these include:

  • Pain in the abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Difficulty breathing; this is mainly caused by the pressure of the abdominal swelling on the lungs and diaphragm making it more difficult to breath

Other associated symptoms with abdominal swelling vary according to the underlying causes. Following are the most common of a long list of possible associated symptoms:

  • Diarrhea
  • Belching
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Tiredness
  • Jaundice, which is a yellowish discoloration of the eyes and skin
  • Loss of weight
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased urination

How Abdominal Swelling Damage The Colon?

Many diseases in the colon may cause abdominal swelling; for example, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and lactose intolerance. Overdistention of the abdomen due to the accumulation of fluids may cause more pressure on the outer surface of the colon leading to weakness in the colonic muscles thus the development of constipation with time.

Add to that, abdominal swelling can be caused by a malignant tumor, such as, ovarian cancer, which may spread all around the abdomen via seeding of the malignant cells, and the colon is one of the possible targets.

What Are The Treatments?

In general, treatment of the abdominal swelling depends on the underlying cause.

  • If the cause of your abdominal swelling is overeating, stop this habit and wait for the food to be digested before eating the next meal. Try to divide your meals into smaller ones. Chew the food well before swallowing it
  • If the cause of your abdominal swelling is gas, avoid foods and drinks which cause gas and try to do more exercises daily
  • Patients with irritable bowel syndrome should avoid stress and enhance their fiber content in the diet
  • Patients with lactose intolerance should avoid eating or drinking dairy products
  • Patients with abdominal swelling due to fluid accumulation may get benefit from bed rest, and restriction of sodium
  • You can also consider using a colon cleansing supplement such as GNC Complete Body Cleansing which might provide relief from gas, bloating, etc.

Conclusion

  • Abdominal swelling is the distention of the abdomen more than its normal size
  • Wide range of causes can lead to abdominal swelling; these can range from benign causes, such as overeating, to much more serious causes, such as malignancy
  • Sensation of abdominal bloating, a pressure in the abdomen, and abdominal distention are common symptoms that can be used by the patients to describe abdominal swelling
  • Over distention of the abdomen may cause more pressure on the outer surface of the colon leading to the development of constipation with time
  • Treatment of the abdominal swelling depends on the underlying cause
Author

Contributor : Stella Hart ()

This Article Has Been Published on September 16, 2013 and Last Modified on August 31, 2018

Stella Hart is a freelance web content writer who independently researches health and beauty products to educate members of the public about their claims. You can connect with her on Linkedin.

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